Message From the President, Eileen Bulger, MD
As I reflect on our 2022 AAST Annual Meeting, I am filled by the joy of reconnecting with friends, inspired by the depth and breathe of research advancing our field, and encouraged by the engagement and enthusiasm of our members. As we begin to emerge from the pandemic, these opportunities to gather as a community are even more special. The theme of the meeting, inspired by Dr. Livingston, was Trauma Survivorship. This focus drives our ongoing effort to understand and mitigate the long-term consequences of injury. While injury is often viewed as a moment of crisis, we have learned that the result is a lifetime of impact not only for our patients, but for all who care for them. Our members are doing exciting work to engage with their communities reaching beyond the walls of the hospital to address the social determinants and inequities that not only increase the risk of injury but impact the trajectory of recovery after injury as well.
This year my goal is to focus on Building Community. I believe that it is our network of friends and family that sustain us in challenging times and social isolation is a major factor contributing to burn out. Our profession as Acute Care Surgeons comes with inherent challenges and stressors, but we have so much to learn from each other. Having a network of those who have a similar lived experience is not only an opportunity for advice and mentorship but can also be a valuable support system in hard times. This was our experience in forming the Women in Trauma Surgery (WITS) group during the pandemic. WITS was established by a group of senior AAST members to provide a virtual forum for mutual support as the pandemic unfolded. With the support of the AAST, WITS has now grown to over 400 members worldwide and holds regular webinars addressing some of the greatest challenges we face as a profession. Throughout this year we will continue to explore opportunities for professional development to support our membership and enhance our community networks.
The other important effort in Building Community is to further advance our efforts to invest in our local and regional communities to support our injury prevention efforts. It is only through building relationships with those who live and work in the communities of our patients that we will understand the environment and mitigate the risk of injury. The public health approach to injury prevention requires community engagement. For example, there are many innovative models for hospital-based and community-based violence intervention programs that have been developed and we need to study their implementation and impact to advance this field. We can also be advocates within our hospital and health systems for a trauma-informed care approach and investments in local communities.
This year we are excited to welcome 43 new AAST fellows and 81 new Associate members. It is through this infusion of energy that we will continue to advance this vital work. We have over 20 committees working throughout the year to advance our mission and I encourage everyone to get engaged. Everyone that has volunteered for a committee has been assigned and if you have not yet had the opportunity, please complete the volunteer form at this https://www.aast.org/committees-overview on the AAST website. There is a diverse array of projects to fit every interest and career path. Engaging in committee work is a great way to get to know members with similar interests and start to build your community within the AAST.
Finally, I would be remiss if I did not express my gratitude to the incredible staff of the AAST. They are the glue that hold our organization together and keep us on track. Thanks to the incredible leadership of our executive director, Sharon Gautschy, along with Jermica Smith, Brea Sanders, Rachel Sass, and Erin Lillis. As Brene Brown has taught me, “Joy collected over time fuels resilience”. I am truly honored to serve as your President this year. Please reach out to me if you have ideas about how we can continue to build our AAST and Acute Care Surgery communities, email@example.com .